Mexico has a bad rep. The mainstream media has painted a biased picture of drugs scandals, murders, human tracking to give the wrong impression of Mexico. Before my departure, I heard the same things over and over again. Why would you go there? It's not safe. Don't get kidnapped, or die.

Nevertheless, the comments did not hinder my desire to serve in a place God was calling me. I am not the type of person to live my life in fear. This is where the revival journey of seeking the truth starts. Needless to say, Mexico is a place of living and within countries there are both good and bad things happening. Considering that a majority of Americans have a bad taste of what Mexico is like based off of solely bad news coverage: here is some good ideas worth sharing.

I have searched high and low to present an authentic understanding of the culture and the people.  My deep love for Mexico started with a seed planted by the organization "Foundation For His Ministry." The mission to rescue children and help the needy has captivated my heart to truly invest every piece of myself into the community of Vicente Guerrero.

From there, my love for Mexico rooter deeper into Vitamin T’s: tacos, tamales, tostadas and tortas, which is a very tasty assortment of authentic Mexican foods. At basically any place, or time there is an outdoor taco stand or street cart. The delicious food truly brings people together. I haven't been to any gathering or event in Mexico without food to go around.

Speaking of people: most people here treat you like family. In all my interactions, the bond of tight-knit families has been pervasive. As an American living in Mexico, I’ve had to disconnect from the media and people in order to get a handle on my own ideals, thoughts and observations. Mexicans are disconnected just enough from the news of the world to plug into what really matters.

Living in Mexico teaches you to love the small things. You learn to love being connected to people on a different level.  You learn to be open and curious to endless of possibilities. In Mexico, you are greeted with more than a handshake. But, rather a warm "Hello" and even a kiss on the cheek occasionally.  Last, but certainly not least, my continuous love for Mexico is rooted deep within my heart for the children. It's a special light that shines in every child's eye that gives me a sense of hope in the future ahead. If you feel led to go to Mexico – go. Don't let any fear, or anyone hold you back from making an impact on this world.

As, a proud American, I have found a love for a country so close to home.

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Shasta Garcia, a 20-year-old graduate from Columbia College where she earned an associates degree in communications, has worked at the Calaveras Enterprise since 2013, first as an intern and then as a Web Content Coordinator.

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